Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 08/06/2016
Another approach to half guard is the one touted in Eddie Bravo's Mastering the Rubber Guard. I tend to warn beginners off Bravo's 10th Planet system, because they often get over-excited and try to run before they can walk. Having said that, it is worth taking a look at the half guard techniques Bravo includes at the start of Mastering the Rubber Guard. This is based around what Bravo calls the 'lockdown', which as far as I'm aware is an old judo position (then again, old judoka would likely tell you that's true of everything in BJJ ;p). The two major problems with the lockdown are that it is often used to stall and it immobilises your hips.
However, it can be useful for disrupting an opponent's base. It also works as a last ditch effort to stop them crushing you when they've got you flat on your back. It is a little different to the standard half guard leg position. I tend to move into it from the guard recovery leg position. Step your outside leg over theirs. Next, bring your inside leg over your other foot (which will then hook around that inside leg), hooking underneath their shin. From there, you can stretch out their leg.
Bravo lays out a careful roadmap of where to go from the lockdown, detailing another method for getting up onto your side. He calls the first part the 'Jaws of Life', which is basically getting both your hands in front of their face, bracing them against the side of their head, near the temple. The idea is to create enough space to slide your arms past theirs, then establish a double underhook around their back. You can then do what Bravo calls a 'whip up'. Release your double underhook and switch to pressing your hands into their ribs. In one motion, bring your knees towards your chest and push with your hands. In the space that creates, immediately shift to your side and establish your underhook.
From here, you can do the toe grab sweep largely as before. Again, reach under their same side leg with your non-underhooking side hand, in order to grab their toes. The main difference with this version is that you keep your underhook in place all the way through, rather than switching your grip. Release your lockdown, bending their leg outwards with your top leg, so you can slide the bottom leg underneath. Drive through with your shoulder, pulling on their toes to break their balance. Swing your leg over theirs as you come on top, then establish side control.
Teaching & Sparring Notes: As I think happened last time, a few people had trouble driving through to the top, but that's easily solved by switching hands. I'm not sure why Bravo doesn't do that in his version, it seems to give you much better leverage. I had a fun spar with Ross, who was showing good defence today. It was a useful exercise in keeping my weight heavy to the passing side, as well as trying to set up my favoured gi tail choke from side control. I think because he was doing a decent job of staying on his side and blocking the cross face, I was having trouble get my gripping arm into his neck. It's handy that people are getting wise to the defence against that choke: it's probably my best submission, so knowing all the potential pitfalls is very useful.
Also, we had an amazing turnout tonight, with 22 people including me! I'm not sure why there were so many, but I'm certainly not complaining. It also demonstrates the the downstairs mats at MYGYM can comfortably accommodate 22 people rolling at the same time. I'll be interested to test the limits of that, so will make sure to count the rolling pairs at the busiest point in next year's GrappleThon. :)